Take Up The Tale!

Glastonbury_Tor-_View_of_an_iconic_landmark_(geograph_5500644)I have at last begun a project, often postponed, to take up the tale of the old Arthurian legends and make my own ballad version of ‘the matter of Britain’ which is what the old poets called the cycle of legends concerning King arthur and the knights of the round table, and supremely, the legend of the holy grail. My poem will be called ‘Merlin’s Isle’ and I have begun ‘ In Medias Res’, in the midst of things with the story of Galahad and the Holy Grail. I have also written a little preface or invocation for the longer poem called ‘Take Up the Tale, and, by way of appetiser, here it is. As always you can hear me read it by clicking on the title or the play button

Take Up The Tale

Take Up The Tale


As I walked out one morning

All in the soft fine rain

It seemed as though a silver veil

Was shining over hill and vale

As though some lovely long-lost spell

Had made all new again


And through that shimmer in the air

I seemed to hear a sound

As though a distant horn were blown

in some lost land that I had known

That seemed to speak from tree and stone

And echo all around.


And with the music came these words:

‘Poet, take up the tale!

Take up the tale this land still keeps

In earth and water magic sleeps

The dryad sighs, the naiad weeps

But you can lift the veil.




From where the waves wash Cornwall’s caves

Out to the white horse vale

The lands still hold the tale of old

Like hidden treasure, buried gold

Once more the story must be told

Poet take up the tale.


Tell of the king who will return

Tell of  the holy grail

Tell of old knights and chivalry

Tell of the pristine mystery

Of Merlin’s Isle of gramaryre

Poet take up the tale.


Take up the tale of courtesy

Take up the tale of grace

Revive the lands’ long memory

Summon the fair folk, let them be, 

something of faery, wild and free

Still lingers in this place




Lift up your eyes to see the light

On Glastonbury Tor

Then come down from that far green hill

To where the sacred waters spill

And shine within the chalice well

And listen to their lore.


Yea, listen well before you start,

Be still ere you begin

See through the surface round about

The noise, the rush, the fear, the doubt

Though Modern Britain lies without

Fair Logres lives within


You may yet walk through Merlin’s isle

By oak and ash and thorn

The ancient hills do not forget

And you might wake their wisdom yet

Who knows what wonders might be met

On this midsummer morn.’


So I have taken up the tale

To tell it full and free

The tale that makes my heart rejoice

I tell it, for I have no choice

I tell it till another voice

Takes up the tale from me.


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Filed under imagination

20 responses to “Take Up The Tale!

  1. Melanie Bromley


  2. Patricia Conneen

    Dear Malcolm, This is fantastic and it seems like it’s coming at just the right time. Thanks for the snout;I’m looking forward to the tail! Cheers, Pat Sent from my iPhone


  3. Eleanor Haynes Prugh

    Bravo, Malcolm
    I am glad for this. Hip Hip Hooray!

  4. lindareid17

    Bravo! Wonderful!! I can almost sing it!!! I love the rhyme scheme! peace, Linda


  5. Beautiful! I can feel the rolling hills and the coasts of England when you read it aloud. I am excited to hear more.

  6. Barbara Parry


  7. Thank you for taking up this tale! I love teaching Arthur to junior high students, and I will enjoy sharing your blog with them.

  8. Huzzah! Take my money now! I’m ready to buy this tale and read aloud!

  9. Gwedhen Nicholas

    Oh, that is just glorious! I can not wait to hear more. The tales of Arthur and Merlin have always fascinated me; maybe because I am Cornish.
    Gwedhen from Canada

  10. Peg Cheadle

    So much anticipation to see how you take up and pass on the tale!

  11. So wonderfully inspiring!

  12. Pingback: Take Up The Tale, by Malcolm Guite – Remembered Lore

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